Apple acquires high-accuracy GPS technology firm Coherent Navigation

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 2015
In the midst of a major overhaul for its Maps service, Apple seems to have made another under-the-radar acquisition as the company apparently snapped up Coherent Navigation, makers of high-accuracy GPS devices and software.




Coherent Navigation co-founders Paul Lego, William Bencze, and Brett Ledvina have all joined Apple in recent weeks, and the company's domain name has been redirected to Apple's network. The changes were first noted by MacRumors.

The reasons behind the acquisition are unclear, but it's likely that Apple is interested in bolstering the accuracy of its GPS-based location services. Lego lists himself as a member of Apple's Maps team, while Bencze and Ledvina point to positions in location technologies.

Coherent specialized in high-precision GPS, which combines standard GPS data with data from the Iridium satellite communications constellation. It made devices for civilian use and was involved in numerous projects with the U.S. government, including military location technologies.

Apple is known to be overhauling Maps 'front-to-back,' and a growing number of services and applications --?including many on the Apple Watch --?rely on precise location data. The company is expected to unveil its next update during June's Worldwide Developers Conference.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,538member
    I guess it's official. It has been added to the Wikipedia list of acquisitions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Apple

    Self driving cars may require high accuracy GPS.

    Heck, Apple might as well buy Iridium Communications while they are at it.
    It's market cap is less than a Billion USD, and they make some cool global WiFi devices on top of the global satellite network. These access points sell for about a thousand USD at Amazon.
    Imagine video conferencing anywhere in the world over the Iridium network.

    [VIDEO]

    Time will tell.

    Note that Coherent Navigation also "integrates solutions with global two-way communications for enhanced utility and security." Check out this Stanford presentation...
    http://scpnt.stanford.edu/pnt/PNT09/presentation_slides/12_Bencze_iGPS.pdf
  • Reply 2 of 26
    thewhitefalconthewhitefalcon Posts: 4,453member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post





    Coherent Navigation co-founder Paul Lego,

     

    Well, I bet nobody steps on him!

     

     

     

    I doubt a Maps redo would involve them just yet, if they're really planning to unveil it at WWDC that's not a lot of time to integrate their technology into the existing program. Unless they were using it before they made the acquisition.

  • Reply 3 of 26
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,062member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

     

    Well, I bet nobody steps on him!

     

     

     

    I doubt a Maps redo would involve them just yet, if they're really planning to unveil it at WWDC that's not a lot of time to integrate their technology into the existing program. Unless they were using it before they made the acquisition.


     

    'Using it' or 'realized their cool tech was a patent infringement'  It may have been cheaper/easier/market-locking-outable to buy the company instead of negotiating royalties.  You'd hate to have something 'killer' that every other wearable needs can could do with new chips and some good trigonometry, and not be able to make your competitors sweat out a new design for a couple years, giving you a 2 generation lead.

  • Reply 4 of 26
    appexappex Posts: 687member
    "high-accuracy GPS". How much?
  • Reply 5 of 26
    mubailimubaili Posts: 377member
    High accuracy gps could also be crucial for self driving cars. Cool. Thinking back, being force her hand by google on the map was a good thing for Apple.
  • Reply 6 of 26
    pujones1pujones1 Posts: 138member
    I hope they were already working on integration prior to acquiring the business and that it comes to market quickly.
  • Reply 7 of 26
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member



    You're right, an  iSat Phone (to give it a name) using the Iridium system would we an interesting addition to Apple's product line. It'd offer voice and data coverage anywhere in the world, although in most situations users would need a good view of the sky. The satellites talk to one another, which means coverage independent of most ground systems.

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium_satellite_constellation

     

    I'm just not sure the market would be large enough for Apple's tastes.

  • Reply 8 of 26
    prolineproline Posts: 184member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mubaili View Post



    High accuracy gps could also be crucial for self driving cars. Cool. Thinking back, being force her hand by google on the map was a good thing for Apple.



    Nope. Helpful, yes, but not crucial. If it were crucial, self-driving cars would be unable to function in tunnels, parkades, etc.

  • Reply 9 of 26
    jameskatt2jameskatt2 Posts: 694member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppeX View Post



    "high-accuracy GPS". How much?

     

    Current GPS is accurate to within 12 to 25 feet.  This probably is accurate to 1-2 feet.



    This is not so much for autonomous driving cars.  It is for personal high-accuracy location WITHIN BUILDINGS and outdoors.

     

    iBEACONS:  Apple is already trying to map the interiors of buildings so that can create more accurate locations for iBeacons.  This way, retailers and customers can interact with each other more efficiently.  Customers can be served notices that are customized to where they are in a store, etc.

     

    MAPPING:  Apple is trying to ad maps to the interiors of buildings that are far more accurate that any available.  This acquisition helps.  Imagine being lost in a Mall and consulting maps to tell you where to go. Etc.

     

    PERSONAL GPS:  with high-accuracy GPS, you can far more easily track your exercise - e.g. running distance - and healthy activities.  Your Apple Watch can then notify you how much more you have to exercise to maintain health. etc.

     

    Etc.

  • Reply 10 of 26
    theothergeofftheothergeoff Posts: 2,062member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by proline View Post

     



    Nope. Helpful, yes, but not crucial. If it were crucial, self-driving cars would be unable to function in tunnels, parkades, etc.




    agreed.   The key to self driving cars is proximity awareness.   (Gee, that box of crap that fell out of the truck 1/4 mile ahead wasn't on the last map update)

     

    Gyros/accelerometers are crucial (on the GPS side).   If you know exactly where you were, and exactly your net velocity due do your accelerations (positive, negative, and angular), you should know where you are.

     

    Like I said, this is more for walking, iWatch stuff (turn right in 5 steps, go down the hall 10 steps and Bob Smith's Office will be on your left), and augmented reality (If I know exactly where I am... then every angle/focal distance can be calculated for locations of interest - 'If you look up and slightly to your left, you'll see the moon coming over the Eiffel Tower')).

  • Reply 11 of 26
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,136member
    High accuracy GPS is just code for the US is moving onto an even more accurate GPS grid deployment system and authorizing generations ago tech to be public.
  • Reply 12 of 26

    I thought Iridium only worked outside with a direct view of the satellites. Not much good in the underground car park or inside a shop.

  • Reply 13 of 26
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member

    So we'll have more greater location accuracy to the wrong places?

  • Reply 14 of 26
    lostkiwilostkiwi Posts: 575member
    Looks like a really good acquisition. I wonder what the danger is of some other company (like Google) buying out the Iridium system that Coherent rely on.
  • Reply 15 of 26
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    madmanmoon wrote: »
    I thought Iridium only worked outside with a direct view of the satellites. Not much good in the underground car park or inside a shop.

    I wasn't aware of any gps working underground or indoors?
  • Reply 16 of 26
    I guess it's official. It has been added to the Wikipedia list of acquisitions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mergers_and_acquisitions_by_Apple

    Self driving cars may require high accuracy GPS.

    Heck, Apple might as well buy Iridium Communications while they are at it.
    It's market cap is less than a Billion USD, and they make some cool global WiFi devices on top of the global satellite network. These access points sell for about a thousand USD at Amazon.
    Imagine video conferencing anywhere in the world over the Iridium network.

    [VIDEO]

    Time will tell.

    Note that Coherent Navigation also "integrates solutions with global two-way communications for enhanced utility and security." Check out this Stanford presentation...
    http://scpnt.stanford.edu/pnt/PNT09/presentation_slides/12_Bencze_iGPS.pdf

    I agree with your Iridium suggestion. I made the suggestion a little while ago... http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/03/16/apple-among-big-tech-companies-reportedly-in-talks-to-buy-boeing-communications-satellite
  • Reply 17 of 26
    adamwadamw Posts: 114guest
    This should help Apple make Maps better, and any future products that uses Maps or GPS.
  • Reply 18 of 26
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,206member
    The sat base station that can allow up to five phones to connect at a time is a big improvement on the old brick style sat phones we are still inflicted with by iridium that perform really, really badly. The sat phones on the market today are essentially the same phones available since 2007. But there is still a massive opportunity for improvement. I would have thought Apple or Google would have bought iridium' sorry butt years ago. The tech has been mostly stationary for a decade.
  • Reply 19 of 26
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,538member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Inkling View Post

     



    You're right, an  iSat Phone (to give it a name) using the Iridium system would we an interesting addition to Apple's product line. It'd offer voice and data coverage anywhere in the world, although in most situations users would need a good view of the sky. The satellites talk to one another, which means coverage independent of most ground systems.

     

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium_satellite_constellation

     

    I'm just not sure the market would be large enough for Apple's tastes.




    Iridium constellation can offer Apple iGPS plus Voice and Data communications either via direct satellite connection or via an Iridium WiFi access point.  An Access Point antenna can be placed on top of a house / building or a car / bus / train / plane or be portable like the Iridium Go.  

     

    "The constellation will provide L-band data speeds of up to 1.5 Mbit/s and high-speed Ka-Band service of up to 8 Mbit/s.  Iridium is planning for the next-generation of satellites to have improved bandwidth."  

     

    Apple's WiFiSlam technology may also come in handy for indoor localization and mapping.

  • Reply 20 of 26
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 341member

    Iridium was very bad service at launch. Not surprising it nearly bankrupted. It was saved by US Army. I was doing PR for it in agency here. It went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy few months later after I left agency. Simply because it was not working as advertised.

    It is good in area without buildings treas and high mountains. So hope it is only addition to service ... :-)

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